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Office Pollution

Did you know that the furniture in your office may be an air polluter? That's right. Never more can we simply blame the poor air quality inside on the poor air quality that may be outside. Instead, the formaldehyde, flame retardants and other toxins used to manufacture the furniture, cubicles and machines found in a typical office environment can contribute to poor air quality in your office.  
In fact, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) calls indoor air pollution one of the top 13 environmental problems it's analyzed. The EPA has estimated that  
  Medical care for major illnesses resulting from indoor air pollution cost more than $1 billion annually
  Lost productivity from those illnesses cost between $4.7 and $5.4 billion each year
  Lost productivity and increased sick leave time as a result of indoor-air-quality-related illnesses costs as high as $60 billion per year
And the problem can be made somewhat worse because many offices - particularly those in high rises - do not have windows that can open. Offices today are more airtight than ever. Which certainly helps keep the smog, heat and humidity outside from coming in. But the polluted air inside stays right there - affecting employee health and productivity..  
Indoor air may be as much two to five times as polluted as outdoor air. This can lead to health effects such as eye, nose and throat irritation; fatigue and dizziness, or to even more debilitating conditions such as heart disease, respiratory disease or cancer.  
Certain types of office furniture may contribute more to indoor pollution than others. For example, desks, bookcases and cabinets made of particleboard release formaldehyde, a very toxic chemical (the EPA classifies it as a probable human carcinogen). What's more, products may release formaldehyde throughout their lifecycle! Many of the chemicals used to treat the fabrics on upholstery can be absorbed by your skin and lungs.  
Paints and chemicals used in office furniture and cubicles also can cause air-polluting VOC emissions and - as stated above - may continue to emit volatile organic compounds (VOCs), contributing to indoor air pollution.  
Here's a list of a few things you can do to create a healthier office:  
  Place the building's air intake on the roof - not by the loading dock, as so many builders do
  Use wood furniture made from mahogany and containing no polyurethane
  Install carpet that's 100 percent virgin wool made without chemicals or dyes
And finally, make sure your furniture/cubicles have been tested - and passed - for Greenguard Certification.  
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